In certain parts of the developing world conventional energy supplies such as electricity, gas, coal and petroleum by-products are either unavailable, too capital intensive to install, are unjustifiable due to low population densities in some semi-arid regions, or are simply unaffordable to the target population. In Zimbabwe, it has been assessed that only biomass energy can conveniently provide both lighting and space heating. Therefore, means of generating biogas from agricultural and other organic wastes, and to encourage their use is a policy which has been adopted by Zimbabwe's Department of Energy. In this study cattle slurry was mixed with a range of solid wastes and allowed to digest in 11 batch digesters. The mixtures which were used were selected on the basis of centroid design with the objective of determining whether there was either synergism or antagonism. Two trials were carried out, one based on cattle slurry, chicken manure (CM) and molasses (Mol), the other based on sheep and goat manure, chicken manure and surplus activated sludge. The criteria for judging the success of a co-digestion were volatile solids (VS) reduction, total methane production and methane yield. In the first trial, the analysis based on the methane yield showed that there was no antagonism and that the mixture of 30% cattle slurry/30% CM/40% Mol gave a synergistic effect. The analysis based on the VS destruction, however, did show that there was some very slight antagonism. In the second trial, the analysis based on the methane yield showed that there was both antagonism and synergism and that the synergism produced an extra 6.7% methane. The analysis based on the VS destruction also showed that there was both antagonism and synergism but that the effects were small.
- anaerobic co-digestion
- agricultural wastes